Tags: arkansas | senate | race | mark pryor | tom cotton

GOP's Cotton Has Momentum in Arkansas Senate Race

By    |   Wednesday, 15 October 2014 09:46 PM

With less than twenty days before Arkansas voters decide on the fate of Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, signs were strong last week that momentum in his bid for a third term was with Republican challenger and first-term Rep. Tom Cotton.

A Fox News poll among likely voters statewide last week showed Cotton defeating Pryor by a 46-39 percent count. In addition, the national media has begun to focus on their contest because it reflects much of the national debate on key issues.

"And we just reminded my opponent and the voters that he has voted with Barack Obama 93% of the time — and on critical issues such as Obamacare, immigration, and foreign policy," Cotton told Newsmax on Monday, minutes after emerging from his first debate with Pryor. The two had just clashed in the first of two debates at the University of Arkansas campus in Conway.

Cotton noted that immigration was a major issue in the Senate race, vividly contrasting his own record of support for "securing our border and enforcing immigration laws already on the books" with Pryor supporting the 'Gang of Eight' Senate proposal on immigration that passed the Senate.

"Anything that's close to Barack Obama's amnesty [for illegal immigrants] I will fight," the GOP hopeful said, adding that voters "don't have confidence in Washington to resolve this issue."

A former U.S. Army Ranger who served in both the Afghan and Iraqi Wars and won the Bronze Star, Cotton, 37, has emerged in his lone term in Congress as a key Republican voice on national security. Although foreign policy is rarely a major issue in midterm elections, Cotton believes the 2014 races is an exception because of the Islamic State (ISIS) efforts to conquer territory in Iraq and Syria and the Russian-backed insurgency in Ukraine.

Obama, in Cotton's words, "doesn't have a political strategy in dealing with situations such as these. He's not engaged at all." The result of the recent U.S. air strategy has meant that the ISIS terrorists "were forced to move from villas to apartments, and they are still in Khobani and headed for Bagdad.

"Where we dropped 230 bombs a day on Afghanistan right after 9-11 in 2001, we're now dropping six bombs a day in Iraq."

Opponent Pryor, Cotton told us, "is all over the place on this issue. He actually wrote an amendment on the Senate Appropriations Committee in July to prohibit aid to the Syrian rebels and the voted against it in September — a direct contradiction."

Cotton believes the president "should not be telling the world what we will or won't do" and that the U.S. "must work with the Kurds and other people we know to be allies in Iraq." He also backs giving the Ukrainians they are "a sovereign state, not a vassal of Russia, and we have to help them fend off those who seek to conquer them."

As it is in most Senate races these days, Obamacare is emerging in the Arkansas contest in a particularly big way. Cotton noted that "over 4,000 Medicare Advantage plans have been cut and Walmart has just cut health benefits for 30,000 part-time workers. Other retailers such as Target, Home Depot, Walgreen's and Trader Joe's are making similar moves—not to mention lumber mills and other employers right here in Arkansas."

None of this would have happened, the conservative congressman maintains, "if my opponent and other Democrats who controlled Congress [in 2010] had not voted to take over one-sixth of the economy and instead had dealt with many of the problems with health care individually — pre-existing conditions, expanding high-risk pools, and permitting the purchase of health insurance across state lines."

As their contest heats up and the national press watches closely, both Cotton and Pryor have brought in "visiting firemen" to help. Days before Cotton spoke with us, former Arkansas Gov. and '08 GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was in Fort Smith (Ark.) to address a rally on behalf of his friend who is running for the Senate. Pryor has benefited from several campaign appearances with his much-revered father, former Sen. and Gov. David Pryor, and Arkansas' best-known son, Bill Clinton.

"You expect a father to help his son and President Clinton will certainly help an old family friend," Cotton told us, "but in the end, voters aren't going to judge someone because of politicians who have been out of office for ten or twenty years. I don't agree often with Barack Obama but he said it best when he said he won't be on the ballot in 2014 but his policies will. That says a lot about the race here in Arkansas."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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With less than twenty days before Arkansas voters decide on the fate of Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, signs were strong last week that momentum in his bid for a third term was with Republican challenger and first-term Rep. Tom Cotton.
arkansas, senate, race, mark pryor, tom cotton
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 09:46 PM
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